Saugatuck Township, Saugatuck Dealing With Road Issues
Roads were the topic of the night at Wednesday’s Saugatuck Township Board meeting, namely the deteriorated conditions of Bridge Street and Dugout Road.
Bridge Street represents a conundrum: the road is itself is in the City of Saugatuck jurisdiction (on its northeast boundary), but the affected residents live in Saugatuck Township.
The City of Saugatuck, having received calls from township residents about the problems of the road, have reached out to the township; it proposes they share in the costs to get the street fixed.
But township officials, while not completely wanting to discard Saugatuck’s offer, raised legal questions about having township residents pay for road improvements for a road that is not technically and strictly in the township.
The township could not, for example, legally divert funds from the taxpayer-approved township fund dedicated to roads, pointed out Saugatuck Township Manager Aaron Sheridan. Still, the road does need repair, residents have indicated.
“It’s (Bridge Street) continued to get worse and worse and worse,” resident John Reinartz told the township board.
Reinartz lives in the Heron Bay subdivision; Bridge Street serves as a throughway for residents there. He says the paved road has large open cracks that present a safety hazard.
“There are 17 residents that use this road on a daily basis,” Reinartz added.
“The only way I see the township expending funds (for fixing Bridge Street) is annexation (of Bridge Street by the township),” said Saugatuck Township Clerk Brad Rudich.
Annexation would have to be offered by the city to the township, and any annexation would mean the road would necessarily have to abide by Allegan County Road Commission standards (i.e., 33 ft expansion from the center), as township roads fall under the jurisdiction of the county.
Saugatuck Township Trustee Roy McIIwaine says he would feel uncomfortable advancing the issue further without first hosting a public hearing about it.
With regards to Dugout Road, the graveled road is full of holes and fire and emergency vehicles would have a difficult time getting through.
The underlining problem is that the township doesn’t have funds to upgrade the water main serving that area. Residents have scoffed at the idea of a special assessment to pay for water and sewer lines, according to McIlwaine, who resides on Dugout Road and is also on the township road committee.
“We are all septic there and it’s all working fine,” said McIIwaine. He is proposing the township move Dugout Road up the priority list.
Improvements would necessitate rerouting some portions of the road and bringing it up to county standards.